Blog #191 I talked about Embrace and Drive Change.. In this blog I want to talk about My first big Pitch as a Zappos Buyer
One of our big Missions at this time in Zappos History was to bring on new brands. In the first 4 months of my time with Zappos I was able to bring on 8 Brands due to previous relationships I had with them at Nordstrom.
I brought on Nina which was a dress shoe brand focused on evening type shoes. I had a great relationship with Scott the rep so this was an easy one. The difficult part was getting a larger credit line but we worked it all out eventually.
Magdesian which was another dress shoe line but focused on extended sizes and widths. They had 4A – WW in sizes 4-14. I had built a great business at Nordstrom with Joe the rep and we enjoyed working together. Art Magdesian was pretty excited about coming to Zappos as well.
Pelle Moda & Moda Spana
Pelle Moda which was fast fun fashionable shoes and was popular at the time in all the fashion magazines. Sizes ranged from 5-13. I knew Rick from Moda Spana and we had a great business at the Arden Fair store together. This was their upper tier brand and they made beautiful shoes.
Moda Spana was also from my friend Rick and they carried the same extended sizes and they had a new designer so it was fresh fashion.
BeBe was a brand licensed by Titan Industries. I had a great relationship with Joe and Brad so they let me bring the brand on to Zappos end of the year. The brand was known for thier stores and sexy clothing. We would represent the footwear.
Andre Assous was famous for their espadrilles. Dave was the rep and we worked together for years when he was with Nina. They had amazing styles and was excited to bring them on.
Lia Bijou was a great sandal line I had great success with at Nordstrom with my friend Jerry. The sandals sold like crazy at Nordstrom and had many styles that were hot sellers.
Then there was the Stuart Weitzman story. I called Kent from Stuart Weitzman as you may recall in a previous blog. It didn’t sound hopeful but we started the conversation. Eileen had tried a few times in the past as well but my ace card was I developed a great business as a buyer in the Valley Fair store. To the point that I knew Wayne the President as well.
Kent and I decided I should call Wayne directly. He was concerned about the brands image and thought we were just a drop ship model. I let him know that we discontinued that model because we wanted to make sure we were giving the best possible service. I gave him the Zappos presentation of what we were all about.
When I told him about how we liked to “Wow” our customers by saying 3-5 day free shipping and sending it 2nd day air he was sold. “ I had no idea how service oriented you guys were and am impressed”. Work out a date with Kent to view the line at the WSA show. When I told Fred he said “Why don’t you fly out next week to NYC with Eileen and seal the deal”. I called back Wayne and he was floored. He told me three things really impressed him this year and this was one of them.
Eileen came along the flight as she had some fashion brands to see as well. We ended up having to share a room the night we got in and watched the “Meet the Fockers” series until wee hours of the night. We still laugh about that today. I was so excited to pitch Zappos to Wayne I couldn’t sleep anyways. A brand like Stuart Weitzman could validate us for other designer brands in the future, no pressure…
The show room was amazing and they offered so many different choices. They had the stock program shoes and then make up shoes which you basically could make your own exclusive. Different fabrications, heels, jewels and colors. It was a bit overwhelming so I relied on Kent and Wayne to help me represent the brand in the best possible way.
But first we had to talk business. Wayne was eager but cautious and rightfully so. We agreed on terms of business and that we wouldn’t mark anything down unless we had permission. To take it a step further we wouldn’t even show the markdown shoes except in the clearance area by size. Wasn’t ideal but better for the brand image at the time.
I called Fred a few times to let him know where I was at in the negotiations. He said at one point “Just buy everything”. After I told him that could be a 10 million dollar order he told me to use my best judgement. The highlight was meeting Stuart Weitzman himself. He is such a nice guy and an icon in the shoe industry.
I spent the whole day figuring out the buy and it was the largest order I had ever written thus far as a buyer. It was exhilarating. I was so excited when I told Fred I landed the deal. I spent the whole flight home putting the orders together to place the next day. It was an incredible experience and one that still stands out as a milestone in my career. It proved to me relationships are so important in business, you never know what the future may hold for you and this time it looked bright.
SIZES... SIZES... SIZES... SIZES...
…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career.
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